Remembering is a unique interactive installation designed for All Saints Day (1st November) but flexible enough to be used all year round.
Our team can work with local organisations and the local community to provide a space where people can remember those who’ve been lost.
Our traditions of funerals and the initial tasks of bereavement mean that more than likely people who’ve experience a loss have had some opportunity to grieve. However, psychologist William Worden argues that “it is not humanly possible to deal with the devastation all at once” (Worden 1983 pg.154.) Remembering gives local people the opportunity to creatively engage with their pain and loss and then to give everyone the opportunity to take pain seriously and move forward.
Our space uses the four tasks of mourning created by William Worden. The space is set us as follows:
This is the first part of the installation. Visitors are welcomed and given an explanation as to what the installation is and how it works. They are offered a drink and conversation right at the start. A simple naming wall gives them the opportunity to remember those they want to. Team members are available to talk and can accompany visitors around the four stages if they’d like. Visitors are also free to leave if they would rather not tackle the four tasks. Everything is done with emotional intelligence and respect of the pain of mourning.
Task One – Accepting the Reality of the Loss
Visitors are given a picture frame. They can place within this a picture of the loved one, write their name and write any message they’d like to and then everything is placed in the frame. These are hung on wire that surrounds the space. The idea is that during the day pictures of those being remembered are all around this first area, giving a sense of collective as well as individual mourning. Visitors can also chat to team members and share memories.
As visitors are about to move to the second area they are given an instruction to be still for a moment – acknowledging this loved one is no longer with us and the loss and pain we feel that they’re no longer around.
Task Two – Working through the pain and grief
Visitors walk into an area with cloud shaped card hanging from the ceiling. Each cloud has a word on it covering the range of emotions experienced in grief – rage, numbness, anger, sorrow, sadness, loss etc. These word clouds and can be unpegged and held by visitors. Psalms of Lament are written on the walls.
The following instruction is given:
“Loss always evokes pain and grief. This is a natural thing. Take a word cloud and allow yourself to recognise the pain you’ve felt. Pick the word which most fits how you’ve felt – you can take as many words as you like. Sit with them and reflect on how you’ve felt. Talk to one of the team if you’d like. Only when you feel happy re-peg the words and move on.”
Task three – To adjust to an environment in which the deceased is missing
The third area has at it’s centre an empty armchair lit by spotlights. Around it are whiteboards which ask participants to share the things that are different or changed after their loss. This can be things like “now I do the finances” or “the house is empty” can be included. This area is accompanied and people are available to talk.
At the exit to this area is a manikin that has written across it “loved and valued.” Across the manikin are smaller words of affirmation and identity. Participants are invited to stand infront of the manikin and to reflect on their significance as a person. They are asked, “what do people appreciate and value about you?”
Worden identifies this key third task as making sense of the space left by the person who has gone. This could be the learning of new skills, a crisis of identity or even a sense of helplessness and vulnerability. Worden encourages the bereaved to face this reality and find a sense of self after the loss. Parkes strikes a similar tone although he notes “in any bereavement it is seldom clear exactly what has been lost” (Parkes 2008 pg.7.) The two elements of this area provide space for this ambiguity but also encourage the participant to gently face the impact of the loss. The chair identifies the space left. The manakin gives a prompt to encourage value of the person’s own identity and skills.
Task Four – To emotionally relocate the deceased and move on with life
As participants enter the final area they are presented with a grey tarmac road apparently stretching out into the distance and a sunset. Across the sunset is written the word ‘hope’ in large black lettering. Participants are encouraged to stand on the road and to imagine the journey of life that is before them. A collection of flowers is in a bucket by the road. Participants are encouraged to imagine the place for the deceased in their future shape of life and lay a flower as a symbol of this.
Worden describes how he initially worded this final task as reinvesting in another relationship but has changed his view towards finding an appropriate place for the deceased (Worden 1990 pg.17.) Worden, Parkes and Kubler-Ross all recognise that it is healthy to remember the loss but Worden particularly emphasizes a “place” for the deceased and as such he concludes the supportive tasks is not “to help the bereaved give up their relationship with the deceased, but to help them find an appropriate place for the dead in their emotional lives- a place that will enable them to go on living effectively in the world” Worden 1990 pg.17.)
Final exit area
As participants leave the fourth area they find themselves at the exit. A comment book is available and team members are there to check everyone is ok. There is the potential to talk further to trained staff and the option of linking with counseling and support services who we have alerted about the day and asked for their support.
How Remembering works
Our team would be very happy to discuss with you the possibility of holding a Remembering installation in your area. Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.